‘Will Resist Communalisation’: Anganwadi Workers Oppose Uttarakhand Minister’s Order to Perform 'Jalabhishek'
Representational use only.Image courtesy: ANI
The All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) has demanded immediate withdrawal of the Uttarakahand Women Empowerment and Child Development minister’s order to all functionaries of the Integrated Child Development Scheme to perform “Jalabishek”(a water ritual) in Shiva temples under the“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”campaign.
“AIFAWH will resist all efforts for the communalisation of ICDS services,” the organisation said in a statement.
The organisation pointed out that Anganwadi workers and helpers belonged to various religions and personal beliefs including Hindus, Muslims, Christians, tribals and atheists. “No government or minster has any authority to ask them to perform a religious ritual as part of official work,” AIFAWH said.
Further, AIFAWH called upon the Anganwadi workers and helpers of Uttarakhand to oppose the minister’s order and boycott it.
The organisation also demanded immediate release of arrears of wages and fund for supplementary nutrition, which have been pending since February 2022 in Uttarakhand.
The directive was issued by Rekha Arya, Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Development, to all the functionaries of ICDS, including anganwadi workers, helpers and mini workers to perform the ritual with the slogan “Mujhe bhi janm lene do, Shiv ke maah me Shakti ka sankalp” (Allow me also to take birth, the pledge of Shakti in the month of Shiva), the statement said. The ritual has been directed to be performed on July 26 when the minister will undertake a ‘Kavad Yatra’ with the same slogan.
“It is a shocking violation of the constitution of India and its secular fabrics as well as the shameful withdrawal of the state’s responsibility to implement the PCPNDT act to stop female foeticide and provide basic services of food and health to the women and girls for them to survive,” the AIFAWH statement said.
The Anganwadi workers said that it was “ironical” that the payment of wages of Anganwadi workers and helpers and the funds for supplementary nutrition has been pending in the state since February 2022. The Uttrakhand Anganwadi Sevika Sahayika Sangh (CITU), affiliated with the AIFAWH, has also been demanding the payment of arrears.
Commenting on the delay in payments, the organisation said, “It is no wonder that the state minster of BJP performing her Hindutva and personal propaganda when at the centre, 80% of the funds for the scheme ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ was spent on the publicity of the Prime Minister.” It was referring to a report of the Parliamentary Committee on Women Empowerment, which found that out of a total of Rs 446.72 crore released during the period 2016- 2019, a massive 78.91% was spent on just media advocacy.”
AIFAWH also said that the payment of a central share of wages was also pending since February this year in many parts of the country. “ICDS budget is being cut down drastically and the workers are asked to find ‘sponsors’ for running the Anganwadi centres,” they added.
Whereas, the AIFAWH is protesting across the country to strengthen the ICDS with increased budget allocation for good infrastructure, quality supplementary nutrition, pre-school education and health services, and the right to minimum wages, pension and organising trade union. In view of this, the 'Anganwadi Adhikar Mahapadav’ will be held on July 26-29, 2022 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi.
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